Indian Ocean tsunami watch issued

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — A tsunami watch was issued for countries across the Indian Ocean after a massive earthquake hit waters off Indonesia on Wednesday, triggering widespread panic as residents along coastlines fled to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles.35262a5c449b820a0c0f6a706700c411

Some were screamed "God is great" as they poured from their homes. Others, separated from relatives, cried as they ran frantically through the streets.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 8.6-magnitude quake was centered 20 miles (33 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor around 269 miles (434 kilometers) from Aceh's provincial capital.

The tremor was felt in Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia and India. High-rise apartments and offices on Malaysia's west coast shook for at least a minute.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami watch was in effect for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Maldives and other Indian Ocean islands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Singapore.

A tsunami watch means there is the potential for a tsunami, not that one is imminent.

Said, an official at Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency who goes by only one name, said a tsunami warning has been issued for cities all along the coast of Sumatra island.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters: "There is no tsunami reported so far, but we remain vigilant."

"Our warning system is working well, and I have ordered the national relief team to fly immediately to Aceh to ensure the situation is under control and to take any necessary action," he said.

Thanks God, from what I heard there is neither casualties reported nor major damage in Banda Aceh or other places," he added.

There was chaos in the streets, with fierce shaking continuing for nearly four minutes.

Patients in several cities poured out of hospitals, some with drips still attached to their arms. In some places, electricity was briefly cut.




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